Healthcare reform is here; this coupled with the aging population of the United States, all evidence points to the extraordinary need of advanced Nurse Leaders for today, and into the future. Currently Registered Nurses make up the largest segment of professional healthcare workers in our nation. However, these nurses are not immune to aging.
Studies indicate that currently 1 in 3 nurses are 50 years, or older. This means that over the next decade, many will be reaching retirement age, and as the rest of the population ages, the need for nurse leaders will continue to grow at a projected rate of 26%.
Chronic illness and the need for more nurses
The leading causes of death today are cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases and currently 60% of all deaths across the globe are now due to a chronic illness. While the majority of RNs worked in private practice or hospital settings in 2010, future growth for RN positions is expected to be found in long-term care centers, surgical centers, rehab, and in facilities focused on Alzheimer’s and Dementia treatment and care.
Nurse Leaders of the future will be an integral part of patient-centered care by assisting in the management of chronic conditions, prevention and wellness care, care coordination and transitional care, and in the education and prevention of adverse health events.
Education is the answer
The nursing profession is expected to see a dramatic shift in employment opportunities for those with higher levels of degrees including an MSN or Doctorate. Today, it is estimated that only 13% of nurses hold a graduate degree. The MSN degree opens doors for specializations including Nurse Practitioners, Nurse-Midwives, Nurse Educators, Nurse Anesthetists, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Clinical Systems Leadership.
By earning an MSN degree, those that hold at least a BSN degree can expect a 17% boost in their salary, along with the advanced knowledge and expertise necessary to function in today’s evolving healthcare industry.
Industry analysts project that by 2020, the number of nurses with a BSN degree will need to increase to 80% over the 50% the industry now holds. In addition, it is projected that most employers are now, or will in the near future, demand a minimum of a BSN degree, with an MSN degree even more sought after due to the ability to specialize in a particular area for the new patient oriented care paradigm.
Our evolving healthcare industry and the reforms already in place give Nurse Leaders the opportunity to excel in providing personalized and high-quality patient care.
Patient-centered care, the aging population, the proliferation of chronic illnesses, and the shortage of nurses indicate that the healthcare industry needs qualified and degreed nurses now and in the future. By 2016, the healthcare industry needs 1 million new and replacement registered nurses to keep up with the changing healthcare reform and the new dynamics of the industry. Nurse leaders will be at the forefront of personalized healthcare delivery and innovation well into the future.